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Baking on a budget

Can you bake a cake on a budget?

Times are tough for many people, and with the rising cost of living, it’s more important than ever to know how you can save money. We are noticing the price of everything is going up, with increasing costs of our own energy bills being a prime example, but also with the cost of everyday items. This is due to the cost of running a business; businesses are also feeling the burn of the price of energy, and usually, this will be added to the price of products, due to the cost increases of creating them.

Have you noticed this when you are doing your weekly food shop? Even the own brand low-price products are having a premium increase added to them; we may think it is marginal when we are going around picking up items to put in our trolley or basket, but when we get to the checkout it soon adds up.

It is still cheaper to shop for own-brand products, and it’s one of the best ways to save a few pennies on your weekly outgoings. And to be honest, a lot of the products are made in the factories as those big brand names quite a lot of the time, so you are mostly paying for the name. Sure, some branded products are a bit better quality, but it depends on what you’re in the market for. In terms of baking, the most used items such as flour, are pretty much the same, so you will see a very marginal difference in the result of your bake provided you follow the recipe.

Speaking of baking, you may want to consider baking on your own to save on some costs, it really depends on the cake you want and how confident you are in your own baking abilities. You will probably have a lot of the ingredients needed to make a basic cake in your cupboards anyway, so it can be a good idea.

You will still need to weigh up the pros and cons though, although you may think that it makes sense to save money by baking yourself, you need to think about the total cost of baking a cake. It can be a bit deceiving.

For instance, if you do not have all of the items in your pantry, you’ll need to add up how much you will be spending by buying all of the ingredients – self-raising flour, caster sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla essence. Two of those ingredients have gone up astronomically in price; eggs due to the reduced number of chickens as a result of avian flu, and butter has also increased in price. And those ingredients are just for a basic sponge cake. Then you have to account for icing sugar, more butter, and any flavouring or colouring for a buttercream. You might even want to put jam in the middle – so you are probably looking at around £10 for ingredients to create a basic Victoria Sponge.

On top of the price of ingredients, you have to be mindful of the power consumption of kitchen appliances. It’s unfortunate to think, the room where we have some of our most important appliances is the room that usually adds the most cost to energy bills. Appliances like ovens and fridge freezers often consume the most energy of anything, it takes a lot of gas or electricity to run an oven specifically. Let’s look at an example; if you have an electric double oven that on average uses 4kWh – 8.5kWh per hour it will cost you somewhere between £2.08-£4.42 per hour ( So, to save the most money when tackling home baking, and to make the most of your ingredient costs as well, batch baking is your best option. The final cost would be greasing or lining your cake tin (if you already have a tin), so you would need to add that to the cost of creating a basic Victoria cake, as well.

Obviously costs really depend on whether you buy branded or own brand ingredients, and also what kind of oven you have, along with its energy efficiency.

If you’re new to baking and considering this as a cost-saving method, buying cake tins is another thing to be mindful of. If you’re not fussed about the quality of your bakeware, then there are some affordable options out there from discount chain shops. Sometimes these items are a bit hit-and-miss with how well they work. In an ideal world, you would want to buy good quality bakeware, in the long run, this could save you money as they tend to be better quality and build to last. However, the initial cost outlay can be extremely expensive, especially when buying from specialist cookware outlets. It might be an idea to keep your eyes peeled in charity shops and bakeware is often donated, and you can sometimes find some good gems. There’s no shame in secondhand, especially when the products are from good brand-named companies known for their bakeware.

One thing that we haven’t mentioned is the cost of your time – we would say it probably takes around an hour minimum to create a basic Victoria Sponge, and that’s if you are extremely efficient in the way that you bake. So, if you were including that in to your equation, add an hour of minimum wage pay to the cost as well.

A lot of time and effort goes into baking, and where it is possible, baking at home can save you some money, especially if you are willing to batch bake and you could also freeze some bakes for a later date to save money in the future. Although you’ll need to make sure you wrap up any cakes well, and possibly even put them in an air-tight container to make sure it doesn’t dry out. Cakes can stay in a freezer, well wrapped, for up to 6 months, depending on the type of cake, however, the longer it stays in the freezer the more chance that the quality will be compromised over time.

If all of this seems too much of a faff, you can always turn to Sponge for good quality affordable cakes for celebrations. We know that some cake companies charge ridiculous prices for cakes of similar quality to that of supermarkets. Our stance has always been the same, we want to provide you with good quality, good-looking cakes, at an affordable price. They are a bit more expensive than supermarket cakes, but the quality exceeds them greatly. Find out more about our cakes on our main website.